Growing an outdoor salad garden in the Winter

Grow a salad garden in the Winter?

Wouldn’t it be great to grow vegetables outdoors even in the winter season?  If you could, you’d be able to enjoy garden fresh flavors in your food throughout the winter.  The great news is you can grow a salad garden during the winter!  You just need to know how.  But you especially need to know these two things that we will discuss:

  • Which vegetables you can grow in the winter
  • How to protect them through the winter

Determining which vegetables to grow

First of all, which vegetables can you grow in the winter outdoors? No matter where you live, the important thing is to know which plants can survive during the cold. You can determine which vegetables by first knowing your USDA Hardiness Zone location.  

This lets you know how low temperatures normally drop in your area.  You can then determine which vegetables would do well in the low temperatures. 

  • First, Check the map to find out what zone you’re in.  
  • Second, Google which plants will grow during the winter in your zone.

For example, my area is zone 7.  This means I can grow beets, broccoli, cabbage, carrots, lettuce, onions, peas, potatoes, radishes, spinach, turnips, kale and collards in the winter.

Hardness Zone Map

Timing when to plant

The timing is also very important.  You have to plant while you have a window of opportunity.  You must wait until the weather is no longer hot and starts to cool.  

But you don’t want to wait too long, as the days will get colder, shorter and darker by mid Winter.  You want your plants to get established before the first frost.  This puts your planting time window somewhere between late August through early October.

Preparing the soil

Microorganisms are not as they are in warmer weather.  They play a key part in the plant’s ability to get the nutrition it needs from the soil.  So, give attention to the soil by preparing beforehand.  Make sure you add organic matter or fertilizer to the soil before planting.

Maintaining your Winter garden

Once your garden is established.  The maintenance of your salad garden gets much easier during the Winter.  The cooler weather gets rid of many warm weather pests.  

The cool weather pests such as slugs and aphids are much easier to handle.  And the growth in the winter is a lot slower.

While we’re on the subject of slower growth,– your plants won’t need as much water during the winter because of their slower growth.

Watering during the winter

In considering the watering during the winter. You may want to consider where you plant.  Since you may not be able to run a hose during these cold temperatures, you may be watering by hand.  So you may want to consider planting closer by so that you don’t have to lug water too far a distance.

Protecting your plants from the frost

You’ll need to protect your plants during the cold frosty weather.  You can use frost blankets, bed sheets, a plastic-covered tunnel or cold frame. 

Yes, it’s a bit of work.  Especially in the beginning.  But imagine the benefits of enjoying fresh organic salad all year long.  Even in the Winter!

Herbs in Your Salad Garden.

I’m writing from my point of view because I know the Herbs I like to cook with on a daily basis,. When we get together we can talk about your preference and what herbs you use daily.

Scallions

Scallians
Photo by Christopher Previte on Unsplash

For example I love scallions.   I could use it in practically every meal,… even with my eggs.  Scallions are part of the onion family.   They can be planted about 1/4” deep.  They are considered perennial.  They love sun.

If you grow them indoors, they can be planted 4 weeks before being transplanted outdoors.  Or they can be directly seeded in the ground.  Scallions also provide vitamin c, iron, calcium, vitamin b6 and magnesium.

Garlic

Garlic
Photo by Shelley Pauls on Unsplash

Garlic loves well drained soil.  It’s  best to plant one clove instead of the whole blub.  Be sure to space them about 6″ apart.  It’s best to plant in the fall  around October for harvesting the next year.  They are perennials so they’ll  come back next year.

Garlic works great as a natural antibiotic.  Garlic also works well as a pest control.  That is one reason I like to plant then  in my  Kitchen Salad Garden. They keep most pests from nibbling my salads.  There are  a variety of types of Garlic, so check with local gardener to find the ones that grows best in your area.  You can dig the blubs after the top has dried off and place them in single layers to dry.

Ginger

Ginger
Photo by Shelley Pauls on Unsplash

I love Ginger!, Ginger is also considered a natural antibiotic.  It’s  good for the cold or flu and great in a brown stew!   

It doesn’t like full blown sun.  Partial shade will work fine.  I’ve found  they grow better in pots.  That’s why they do well in a garden container.  Place your harvested Ginger in paper towel sealed in a plastic bag in the refrigerator it will last about 1 month.

Thyme

Thyme
Photo by Rudy Issa on Unsplash

Thyme is an all round favorite!  It gives great flavor to your meals and a creates a pleasant aroma in your garden.  It prefers well drained soil.  You need to plant Thyme outdoors in the spring, about 1 foot  apart. This plant is also a perennial.  So, it will come back every year for about 3 years– then it’s best to replace them.

If you plant Thyme in your raised bed with tomatoes and potatoes, it will help repel  certain bugs like cabbageworm and whiteflies.  Thyme prefers full sun over partial shade.

So, these are a few of my favorite herbs to grow.  I will introduce more as time goes by.